Sunday, May 31, 2009

Minneapolis Marathon 2009

This was a great inaugural Minneapolis Marathon. That's the bottom line. I loved it.


(1) But where’s my jacket? Half marathoners got a nice technical shirt in their race packets, but full marathoners were supposed to get a jacket at the finish line. I got a medal, sure enough, almost couldn’t avoid it, got a banana too, but never noticed anyone handing out jackets, or a table where they might have been handed out, or other runners carrying their jackets. Did I screw up? Probably. I admit that when I finish a marathon my brain is mostly on vacation, and I actually didn’t think about the jacket until after I got home, so maybe someone tried to hand me one and I blew them off. Or did they run out of jackets? Not likely - they knew exactly how many marathoners were in the race weeks ago, because registration was closed. Oh well, I’m sure I missed something. And I don't really need another jacket.

(2) I didn’t get water at the first aid station, Mile 2. It appeared they had some, but there was a long line of runners stopped and waiting for it, so I decided to just motor on. The remaining aid stations did their job correctly. They’ll have that fixed next year I’m very sure.


All the rest is positive. This was my 35th marathon, and it ranks very high in quality. Very high indeed. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE COURSE! Nearly all of it was on parkways or trails, and nowhere did the runners have to share a road with automotobile traffic. There were a few bikes, especially on the trails to Fort Snelling State Park, but they don’t hurt nearly as much if they hit you. And you can yell at ‘em or sock ‘em in the nose. Besides, the race’s own bike patrol booted them off the road whenever they encountered them.Me at the start The course was partly out-and-back, with big loops at the front and the back. Some folks are put off by the out-and-back, but not me. I like to see the front-runners and give them a little encouragement as they head toward me, and same for those who are slower than me. The course was a bit hilly ("challenging"), but I don’t mind that - I just use the hills as another excuse to walk, then the downhills as a very good reason to run. Nobody passes Don on the downhill. Well, rarely.

I was surprised by the number of spectators, and by their enthusiasm. Not as many as TCM, but enough to be a nice distraction. I wear DON on my shirt, and got lots of "go Don" affirmation. Beautiful day, too, about 45 at the start and 70 at noon.

I finished second out of ten in my age group! Imagine. Sounds good until you know that my time was 4:49:00, which means that most of us old farts in the 65-69 age group went over five hours. And it means the the "big guns" didn’t show up for this race. Not a single one of us ran a Boston-qualifying time of 4:15. Three weeks from now, at Grandma’s, several will do that. Last year 11 of 51 did.

I’m happy with my time though. I just can’t run 4:15 any more, and this was actually a bit faster than I intended because there’s another marathon coming up in a week. I started out running three minutes and walking two, modifying that as needed to deal with hills. That put me right on pace. After mile 20, though, many of the runs were shorter and so were the walks. I didn’t slow much though - the last 10k was about 1:07, which is a pace of 10:48, slightly better than the overall pace of 11:01.

Pains: Nothing worrying. Calves wanted to cramp up ten minutes after the finish, but I stretched ‘em out and they didn’t. Both knees are complaining a little, but they're better already and will probably be fine tomorrow. The cancer-drug-induced neuropathy in my feet (previous post) did NOT get worse during the marathon. That’s very good news if my feet stay that way overnight, because I'd hate to think that running is harmful to my feet. I feel pretty good, actually. Recovery run Tuesday or Wednesday.

Splits: 11:32, 10:43, 10:28, 21:03 (2 mi), 23:06 (2 mi), 11:03, 10:21, 11:10, 42:39 (4 mi), 13:51 (potty stop), 11:03, 10:22, 12:24, 11:03, 11:07, 10:19, 21:38 (2 mi), 11:02, 10:12, 14:00 (1.2 mi). Total 4:49:00, pace 11:01. Slightly better than Lincoln, which was not as hilly as this one.

Great race - I already like the Minneapolis Marathon better than TCM, not least because it has a 7-hour time limit and TCM are such jerks about their 6-hour limit. I may do this every year.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Beautiful Day

Two and a half soft miles in a nearby neighborhood. Pace 8:25 for one timed loop (too fast), and 9:29 for the second one (about right). Tapering down.

The soles of my feet are starting to tingle and feel numb all the time, most likely a side effect of the medications I’m taking. It’s called "peripheral neuropathy," and the meds are known to cause it for some people. Unfortunately, it seems a little worse right now after the run than it did before the run. I was hoping that running might actually help hold it off, by increasing blood flow or something, but no indication of that yet. I suppose a marathon might settle the question - it could get a lot better or a lot worse. We shall see. I’m blogging more about it on my myeloma blog.

Beautiful day though. It’s a masterpiece!

Gluten-free oatmeal with dried cranberries and organic raisins, banana, mango, organic green grapes, blueberries, organic pomegranate juice, organic low-fat milk.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Runner's Emergency Kit

Peter made a very good point in his comment on my previous post. No doubt the petroleum jelly works too, but he mentioned his emergency kit.

My kit is a similar concept, containing:

  • Copies of medical insurance cards, for ID and, well, for insurance;
  • A $20 bill;
  • An Aleve (NSAID);
  • An aspirin, in case of heart attack; and
  • Two Benadryl tabs in case of bee sting - I’m allergic.
That little packet weighs almost nothing, and I slip it into my pocket on every run, whether it’s a huge marathon or a romp in the park. I’ve never NEEDED anything from it yet, though I gave the Benadryl once to another runner who did get stung, and the $20 bill has come in handy more than once. I like Peter's idea of emergency gloves and headband, too; perhaps I'll add those.

Maybe more important, I always, always bring my cell phone. There were times that I left it behind, begrudging the extra four ounces, especially in a marathon. Until, that is, I broke down in a marathon and needed to let my people know I’d be lucky to finish in six hours instead of the planned 3:50 or so. Now I carry it every time, and would never buy a pair of running shorts without a zippered back pocket for that phone. I’ve used it more than once to call 911, not for myself (yet) but for some other situation. Once it was to report two over-ripe dead cows (phew!).

Today’s taper run was on the overhead track at the "club," four miles in 35:15. Good pace for today, good distance for the taper. I did feel just the slightest pain in the right heel while walking after the run. Like the very beginning of plantar fasciitis (PF) which, as I recall, began at the back of the heel before it moved to the center. My PF cured itself a couple of years ago, but "they" say it’s recurrent. So maybe it’s coming back. Just in time for my string of three or four marathons. Yuk.

Tonight I’ll be wearing The Sock, the very best single treatment for PF that I’ve found, short of surgery. It doesn’t cure PF, but it may be able to reduce or even eliminate the symptoms, at least for a while. Stretches help too, and I’ll be vigilant about those. But gosh I hope it’s a false alarm.

Splits: 9:11, 8:42, 8:40, 8:41, total 35:15, pace 8:49. I’m happy.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Men's Nipple Protection

If you are offended by talk about men's bloody nipples, LOOK AWAY QUICK.

Too late, you're stuck now. In my seven years of running, and reading runners' magazines and blogs, I don't recall seeing much advice about the problem that men can have with "runner's nipple." We have all probably seen men, after a race, with a streak of red streaming down their shirt from each nipple. That's from the shirt rubbing lightly against the nipple lots of times (maybe 80,000 times or so in a marathon) until the skin is gone. It hurts a little at the time, but it hurts A LOT later in the shower! For several days. Then there are scabs, etc. yada yada. Anyway it's to be avoided except by those who just adore pain.

NipGuards So why doesn't every guy have those tell-tale red streaks? Maybe some guys have really tough nipples. Hmmm. More likely, most have figured out a solution. Some guys run without a shirt, or perhaps there's a favorite shirt (probably not cotton) that does the job, or band-aids, or something else. One runner (good friend) suggested NipGuards, especially made for this purpose.

I admit that I haven't tried NipGuards, because I found that spot bandages work quite well. They don't have an indent for the nipple, as I believe NipGuards have, but that's not a problem. I've tried several brands, and because my old-man skin has been further "tenderized" by dexamethasone, I prefer Curad Sensitive Spots, available from many fine drug stores. They stick well, for a 1-mile race or a marathon. Curad Sensitive Spots Other spots I've tried either stick too strongly or don't last for 26 miles. The Curad Sensitive Spots cost at most $4.00 for a box of 50, or about $0.16 per pair, whereas NipGuards cost about $0.90 per pair. If I run 200 times per year, that's a lot of money.

Three miles is my limit. No nipple problems for a 5k without spots, but maybe for an 8k and certainly for a 10k or longer. This morning Sweet Pea and I went out to a sleepy neighborhood, where it turned out she wanted to run 5k. Because I'm faster, that meant I would run 5 miles (8k), which was farther than I had equipped my nipples to go. I may have gotten away with it though - I'll know when I hit the shower in a few minutes.

This was DEX day, so in theory my muscles should have run out of gas part way through the run, but I didn't sense that happening any more than it would on a normal day. Total time was about 54 minutes, a horrible time for 5 miles, but a mile or so of that was walking with Sweet Pea, and I ran a pace of 9:14 during the portions that I could time. Good enough for a taper run. It's a masterpiece.

Slight cramp in the right calf, just one little muscle in back on the inside, right at the start. I stopped to stretch it once and never heard from it again.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Stillwater Marathon 2009

Sunday, May 24:

I didn't run it, because it would just have been one too many marathons for me. But Sweet Pea and I watched it - Sunshine was home taking care of a banged-up knee. We hooted at several friends as they cruised by at Mile 10, then one at Mile 14, and finally we watched a couple of them cross the finish line. They did well.

As we watched, someone ran past and hollered "Minnesota Don!". Sorry to say, I don't know who that was. I wish I had chased after him to find out. Who was that unmasked man?

Impressions of the marathon by other runners seemed generally good. Hilly ("challenging") but not too hilly. Maybe just right for someone who wanted to train for Grandma's or another upcoming marathon. It included one start line, two different finish lines, and four different races. Here's a preliminary rundown on finishers:

Marathon 453
20 Mile 103
Half Marathon   894
12k 511
Here are some results.

Weather was almost perfect. Cool at the start, never getting over 70 by race's end. I might do this marathon next year if the timing is better.

Saturday, May 23:

St Croix Valley Runners, 5 miles. We have our own web site up and running again, Thanks, Gauss. Six runners showed up this morning to walk, all of them intending to run in tomorrow’s Stillwater Marathon. That’s become a tradition before Sunday marathons - walk a few miles as a group the day before.

I ran with Wayne and Mary, finishing the five miles in 46:22, for a pace of 9:16, slower than I could have run. I did feel much better today than I felt on Thursday. This is a good start to a taper week. More taper Monday.

Thursday, May 21:

Sweet Pea and I went to a local bedroom neighborhood to run, where car traffic is minimal. She ran 5k while I ran 5 miles. My overall pace was horrible, because we walked together some of the time, but I ran a pace of about 9:30 when I was running alone.

Not a good day, though. I felt rubber-legged and weak the whole way. There will be better days. This makes 28 miles for the week, plenty enough.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

97 Degrees?

That’s the official Twin Cities weather for the day at the MSP airport, eight degrees above the previous all-time high for this date. But I don’t believe it. The temperature never went above 86 out here in the 'burbs. And in any case, I ran early enough in the morning that the temperature was just a delightful 60 degrees.

I ran the same loop route as last Thursday, on the hilly, grassy trails of the park, except I ran it the other direction. I felt tired right from the beginning, and though I intended to run ten minutes and walk one or two, that plan went by the wayside after about two miles. I ran until I felt I couldn’t, then walked until I felt I could run again. That worked very well. I didn’t see another person on this jaunt in the woods, except in the parking lot. They must have taken other trails - there are plenty.

Happily, my energy improved toward the end of the run. I don’t have mileposts, so I can’t time the miles, but it felt good at the end, no walking. Time for the 6.9 miles was 1:10:35, just 15 seconds shorter than last Thursday. No surprise I suppose. Pace 10:14. No pains whatever.

Breakfast: Organic oatmeal with dried cranberries and organic raisins, orange, dates, banana, organic cashews, dark chocolate, and organic nonfat milk.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cold Weather, Warm Weather

Sunday, May 17:

I started this run slowly and speeded down from there. Just no energy at all this afternoon, The weather was a bit warm, 64 degrees according to the weather bureau and 71 according to our own thermometer. I believe ours, and it seemed even warmer, with lots of sun and hardly any wind. The route was new for me, a jog out of our town into another, then back through a park, for 10.9 miles.

I walked a lot. A lot. Just couldn’t keep going. Which is just as well, because overheating was a possibility. Total time was 1:51:24, for a pace of 10:13.

Really? I thought I was going much slower than that. Well, that's not so bad then.

Saturday, May 16:

St Croix Valley Runners. What a cold, uninviting day to run! Forty degrees with a strong northwest wind. Seven of the nine guys (seven of nine, Trekkies!) wore tights or long pants, with only two of us in shorts. I wore shorts but had my knee protectors on. I was a little surprised by the robust size of the group! Randy is back - that's nice.

Two fast guys zipped out ahead, with another group not far behind. I ran behind with old Dave, who was taking it easy because he had a 5k race later that same morning. We finished the five miles in 45:21, which is a pace of 9:04. I’m OK with that.

Tonight's dinner: Roast no-hormone no-antibiotic beef (Whole Foods), jicama, vegetable curry dish including organic carrots, organic sweet potatoes, organic squash, onions, a few organic raisins, and organic coconut.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Three Nice Runs

Thursday, May 14, 2009:

Seven miles on the hilly, grassy trails of a regional park. What a treat! I encountered exactly two other people, walking their dogs, on the whole run. Mostly I felt alone with the forest, fields, and critters. Pretty nice.

Time was 1:10:50, distance 6.9 mi, pace 10:15. Could be better, but I had a good time.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009:

There was a time when friend Jim and I ran together regularly, sometimes every week, even though I was slower. But lately my speed has dropped so low that we’re a rather poor match, so it’s harder to get together.

Today, though, Jim needed an easy run and I probably needed a fairly hard one, so the match was great. Ten miles on the Gateway trail, up to Pine Point Park and back. Very nice. Good conversation and a good pace. I didn’t bring my watch, but I suppose we were running faster than 9-minute miles when we ran, and we walked for about a minute at each mile post.

Monday, May 11, 2009:

Seven miles on the hilly, grassy trails of a regional park. What a treat! I encountered exactly two other people, walking theor dogs, on the whole run. Mostly I felt alone with the forest, fields, and critters. Pretty nice.

Time was 1:10:50, distance 6.9 mi, pace 10:15. Could be better, but I had a good time.

Quick Lunch: Organic chicken bratwurst with organic mustard, organic green grapes (first of the season), organic strawberries.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Recovery Runs

Saturday, May 9, 2009:

St Croix Valley Runners, the usual five miles, at a tempo pace but not quite a race pace. Nice recovery run for last weekend’s marathon.

Three speedsters flew out ahead and I ran behind with Paul, Wayne, and Jim, who ran to the event and then ran back home, clocking a total of about fifteen miles. We four finished in 45:12, for a pace of 9:02.

The forecast had threatened a rainy, blustery morning, but in fact the sky was blue in all directions and it was a breezy, invigorating 42 degrees. Shorts with a wind jacket over one shirt kept me plenty warm. Gloves felt good too. What a beautiful day for running with friends.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009:

Sunshine is temporarily out of commission with a sore MCL, so Sweet Pea and I went to a nearby neighborhood to run and walk in a low-traffic area. This was the first run since the Lincoln Marathon last Sunday, so we wanted to take it easy and we sure did, running 3.3 miles in 38:30, a pace of about 11:30. Good run.

Click to enlarge
Breakfast: Gluten-free oatmeal with dried cranberries, banana, blueberries, organic strawberries, organic walnuts, organic nonfat milk.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Lincoln National Guard Marathon

Not a bad event at all. If I lived here I’d do it every year. But I don’t, so this marathon gets me Nebraska, my 21st state and 34th marathon. Weather was OK, about 55 at the start and about 65 when I finished. Plenty warm, actually, but I don’t melt as easily as some runners and I was OK.

For some reason this was a joyful marathon for me. Over and over again I realized how wonderful it was to be floating down the street with the other runners, hearing people say "go Don!," feeling the sun on my head, the breeze in my face, and the pavement underfoot. Perhaps it has something to do with the good test results from Mayo last week. Or maybe it was because of all of the Team in Training (TNT) runners in this race. TNT is part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), which supports research for myeloma and other blood cancers besides leukemia and lymphoma. It’s a way for LLS to raise money. As I understand it, the TNT runners collect pledges for LLS from their friends and relatives, due when the runner finishes the race. I may not have that whole picture, though.

Many of the LLS runners are doing their first marathon, or half-marathon. I like to encourage them. When I pass one, or one passes me, I tell him or her that I have myeloma, that they might be saving my life, and that they are my hero. All true. They like to hear that, and in fact more than one said that was just what they needed to hear to keep going. It’s emotional, on their part and mine. All good. Sweaty runners don’t hug much, otherwise we would be running down the road four-leggedly.

I took it fairly easy this time, finishing in about 4:50. I wanted to finish in less than five hours, no problem. It was my slowest marathon since starting the CC-4047 and dexamethasone drug regimen a year ago last March, but I think I could have shaved off ten minutes if I had felt that driven. Instead, I felt exuberant and full of joy today so I took it easy and tried for a consistent pace. Indeed, the last 10k took only four minutes longer than the first 10k. That’s cool.

Slight pain: My back hurt, in or near the spine well above the waist, but that came and went. It’s gone now. It’s a new thing - I hope it doesn’t come back. No joints hurt. The hip flexors that have yelled at me on long runs for a year or so were silent today. Perhaps they’ve figured out their role in this marathon running. All leg muscles hurt: quads, hamstrings, and calves, as might be expected. In fact one of the calves cramped up a few minutes after the finish, which is an excruciating pain that lasts about a minute but seems like an hour. It goes away faster if I can stretch it gently, and I was able to lean against a tree and do that. I took plenty of salt this time, and water at every aid station, so the best solution for the calf cramps will be to TRAIN BETTER! Three more marathons coming up. This was a long run for the first of them.

I might write some more about this marathon tomorrow. Right now, It’a a masterpiece!

Splits: 11:20, 10:13, 10:59, 9:58, 11:25, 9:31, 10:56, 11:36, 11:27, 11:20, 11:14, 11:09, 21:32 (2 mi), 10:34, 12:04, 11:42, 12:27, 10:49, 11:11, 11:12, 10:21, 11:49, 10:58, 12:03, 11:05, 1:58 (0.2 mi), total 4:50:43, pace 11:06.

Ornamental crab, or maybe even a real apple tree
If it weren't called the Lincoln National Guard Marathon, it could be called the Lincoln Apple Blossom Marathon. We saw a lot of onamental crabs in full blossom.